Grandmother Charged With Intoxication Manslaughter After Granddaughter Dies In Car Accident

A Chandler grandmother has been arrested and charged with intoxication manslaughter following the death of her 5-year-old granddaughter during a car accident in July. The accident occurred a few miles outside of the Tyler city limits around 10:00 p.m. The grandmother, driving a Chevy Tahoe, apparently lost control, crossed the roadway and struck a tree.

The only other passenger in the car was the 5-year-old granddaughter. Following the accident, emergency officials transported the grandmother and the child to the hospital. The grandmother remained in stable condition. Tragically, the 5-year-old died the following day from injuries sustained in the crash.

Grandmother arrested and charged with intoxication manslaughter

Troopers who investigated the accident said that the grandmother operated the car at unsafe speeds in the wet road conditions. The speed limit in the area is 35 miles per hour. One Texas trooper who arrived at the scene stated, “[t]here was reasonable suspicion to believe the driver was indeed drinking, there was the smell of alcohol.”

While the grandmother was in the hospital’s intensive care unit, police drew blood in order to determine her blood alcohol content. The tests revealed that the grandmother had a blood alcohol content of .154, which is well in excess of Texas’s legal limit of .08. Investigators learned that earlier in the day before the crash, the grandmother attended her sister’s funeral and then went to a family gathering, where she had several alcoholic drinks. To make matters worse, the grandmother apparently had Xanax and marijuana in her system during the crash.

After Texas troopers completed their investigation, they called the grandmother to inform her that they had a warrant for her arrest. The grandmother’s response startled the officer: she was apparently rude and had no compassion about the situation. Even more surprising, however, is what one officer learned after looking at the grandmother’s Facebook profile. The grandmother had been making references on her Facebook page to drinking games involving alcohol.

Chandler police eventually arrested the grandmother after they located her and made a traffic stop. The grandmother remains in jail, subject to a $350,000 bond.

Intoxication Manslaughter under Texas law.

Under Texas law, a person commits intoxication manslaughter if the person operates a vehicle in a public and “is intoxicated and by reason of that intoxication causes the death of another by accident or mistake.” Intoxication manslaughter is a second degree felony offense. A second degree felony is punishable by imprisonment for not less than 2 years and not more than 20 years. In addition, an intoxication manslaughter conviction can carry up to a $10,000 fine. 

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Oregon Teenager Posts Drunk Driving Status on Facebook

 People write all kinds of desperate and stupid posts on Facebook, but one teenager from Astoria, Oregon takes the cake with his self-implicating post.  His Facebook post said “Drivin drunk… classic ;) but to whoever’s car I hit I am sorry.  :p.” This could have been just another desperate status update to get people’s attention, but a couple of his Facebook friends took this post seriously.  So serious, in fact, that they forwarded the message to the local police department.

First of all, any DUI or DWI lawyer will tell you never to admit guilt or submit to an alcohol test if you are stopped by the police.  However, this teenager was helpful enough to take all of the police work out of the two damaged vehicle reports they had received earlier.  Thanks to him, the two damaged vehicles’ owners now have evidence against him to make an insurance claim. 

Luckily for this teen, he was not pulled over while “drivin drunk”.  However, police officers did go to his house and charge him with two counts of failing to perform the duties of a driver.  Let this be a lesson to everyone out there that it is never okay to plead guilty to driving under the influence on Facebook or any other social media sites!  It is not advisable to plead guilty to any other crime on social media sites for that matter.

The teenager has told the media repeatedly that he was only being sarcastic, and that the icy roads caused him to slide into the two vehicles.  He says that he posts sarcastic stuff like that all of the time.  Well, if he continues to post sarcastic, incriminating status updates he will not have to worry about his Facebook friends for long because he will be in prison.  Hopefully he learned his lesson, and put a breathalyzer on his Facebook account.

 

New DWI Task Force for Entire Houston-Galveston Area Announced

 The Houston police department has a DWI task force, and the Galveston Police Department has a DWI task force.  However, plans to form a new regional DWI task force that would unite officers from 13 counties were announced just before Christmas.  The reason for the new task force is supposedly to make better use of the area’s pooled resources.  However, some might see it as overkill.

There are already very large and active DWI task forces operating in both Galveston and Houston.   The Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC) states that the new DWI task force will help out during peak holiday season. The Texas Department of Transportation is footing the bill for the new Houston –Galveston area DWI task force that will only be in operation on holiday weekends.  It seems like the money might be better spent helping the DWI task forces that already exist instead of shoveling out money for a new organization that will only organize during holiday weekends a few times a year. 

A regional DWI task force such as this is unheard of in Texas.  While many mid to large sized cities in Texas have DWI task forces, and even small towns put extra officers on the schedule during the holiday season, a task force 13 counties strong is a first.  The new Houston area task force will put approximately 50 extra patrol cars on the roads during the holiday seasons that are solely dedicated to finding drunk drivers. 

It’s unclear how Houston and Galveston’s DWI task forces feel about the extra patrols.  While initially I thought they would be pleased to have more help on the roads during the busy time, the thought did cross my mind that they would feel uncomfortable with it.  It‘s just like at work when a new department is created to perform your job duties, but you haven’t been fired yet.   Hopefully it will all work out for all of the officers involved.

DWI arrests in the Houston-Galveston area have already gone down tremendously over the last few years. More people are making responsible choices when it comes to drinking and driving.  However, if you find yourself facing drunk driving charges, contact a Houston DWI Lawyer right away.

Holiday No Refusal Blood Draw Back in Houston for 2012

 The holiday blood draw days are back, and they have nothing to do with a blood drive for charity.  Throughout the holidays, up until New Years Day, DWI Task Force and BAT vans will be out in full force.  Extra staff will be on hand to assist police officers in attaining timely search warrants to forcibly draw blood from anyone suspected of driving under the influence or while intoxicated.

The Houston police department (HPD) does not release its strategy or areas of concentration to crack down on drinking and driving during the holidays.  Luckily for people in Houston and throughout Texas, DWI checkpoints are not allowed here.  However, the DWI task force strategically places officers at points of high traffic volume and DWI likelihood. 

If you live in one of the trendy hot spots in Houston with a dense population of nightspots and restaurants such as the heights area (Washington Ave. in particular), Galleria, City Centre, or Westheimer Rd., be extra careful over the holidays.  These areas are not only well known as great destinations for a night out, they are known to law enforcement as high concentration areas for drunk driving.  The Houston DWI task force will be waiting for you to make any little mistake or forget to use a turn signal while driving in these areas.

If you’re going to go out to celebrate at a dinner party, restaurant, or bar over the holidays, make sure you have a designated driver or other transportation arrangements. With Houston police saturating the roads this holiday season, and a no refusal blood draw week ahead, it would be silly to take any unnecessary chances.

However, the holidays are meant for celebrating, and sometimes our judgment calls are not as sharp as we hope they will be.  If you are arrested for DWI or DUI charges, call the Offices of Johnson, Johnson, & Baer, P. C. today.  

Parales to Head Houston DWI Task Force Despite Reprimands

 

 Last month Police Chief Charles McClelland named Daniel S. Parales as the new Houston DWI task force supervisor.  The reason his appointment has provoked so much controversy is because he was reprimanded in April for not charging an HPD officer with a DWI when he was clearly intoxicated.  After colliding with a school bus and testing a BAC of over twice the legal limit, Parales let the officer go and attempted to cover the whole thing up. 

Teresa Argueta was driving the privately owned school bus when the accident occurred, and luckily was the only occupant.  She was later cited for running a stop sign.  Argueta claimed that the vehicle Sergeant Ruben Trejo was driving at the time of the accident contained opened beer and wine bottles, and that Trejo smelled strongly of alcohol. 

Officers who responded to the scene were later reprimanded for not taking the bottles as evidence.  However, the officers claimed that the bottles Argueta spoke of were unopened. 

Teresa Argueta’s son, Aaron Argueta, rushed to the scene of the accident after receiving a phone call from his mother about the accident.  When he arrived he immediately went to the site of impact and attempted to take pictures of the alcohol in the police officer’s car. Argueta claims that the officers threatened to arrest him if he photographed the inside of the car.

Chief McClelland continues to defend his decision of appointing Parales as the new Houston DWI task force supervisor, stating that Parales and the other officers reprimanded in the event will in no way repeat the mistakes they were disciplined for.

Sergeant Trejo was charged with a DWI two weeks after the accident, and has since retired from his position as an HPD Sergeant. 

Aaron Argueta voiced concerns over what he thinks was an obvious cover-up.  He told the media that if he had hit a school bus while driving drunk, he would most certainly be in a penitentiary. 

However, the Houston Police Officer’s union has been extremely critical of McClelland’s punishment towards the HPD officers who responded to the scene of the April 13th accident.  The union thinks that the punishment was unnecessary, and that the officers did not make any mistakes that would warrant such reprimands. 

Even Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) agrees with Parales’ appointment as supervisor of the Houston DWI task force.  MADD says that they are happy with any concentrated efforts to stop drunk driving in Houston.

Public controversy over HPD and other local law enforcement agencies is nothing new in Houston.  Only last month the Harris County Sherriff’s parole department was under scrutiny, and hundreds of drug tests were deemed inadmissible in court.  It is safe to say that Sergeant Trejo will need a good Houston drunk driving lawyer to defend him, as leniency in his trial is highly unlikely.

 

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Future San Francisco Archbishop Arrested for DWI

Salvatore Cordileone is a 56-year-old bishop in Oakland, California.  He was pulled over at a checkpoint near San Diego State University at approximately 10pm while returning home from dinner with a few friends at his mother’s house.  Officers suspected that he was impaired, and administered a breathalyzer field sobriety test.  He was found to be over the limit and booked into the San Diego County jail at around midnight.

California’s DUI charge is the same as a Houston DWI charge, although their names differ slightly.  Although the amount by which he surpassed the legal limit has still not been made public, he would not have passed a breathalyzer in Houston either because Texas and California both consider .08% blood alcohol content to be over the limit.

He has apologized emphatically for bringing shame upon his church and self.  The Pope appointed him to be the next archbishop of San Francisco, which will take place on October 4th assuming that no disciplinary action takes place.  The only party that could discipline him from within the Catholic church is the Vatican.

While Cordileone has apologized for his behavior and no doubt feels anxious about further disciplinary action from both the government and the Vatican, this incident may actually benefit the Bishop.  Luckily none of the passengers in the car that he was driving were injured, but his momentarily lapse of judgment may actually help make this devout Christian more human in the eyes of his community. 

Just like Texas, California has an implied consent law that requires anyone who has a driver’s license to submit to an alcohol or drug test if police officers suspect they are impaired.  This means that Cordileone has already had his driver’s license suspended, and is facing certain jail time.

Houston DWI lawyers fight penalties similar to California’s DUI penalties, which Cordileone will soon be very familiar with if not already.  If convicted, Cordileone will have to file proof of insurance, complete a DUI treatment program, have his driver’s license suspended for six months, pay substantial fines, and serve up to six months in jail.

Apologetic Cordileone and the forgiving Christian community who are supporting him (regardless of his very public mistakes), serve as a shining example of the human spirit.  Cordileone is set to take a position of elevated responsibility within the Catholic church, which has created controversy considering the charges he faces.  However, he retained his dignity in the face of this controversy by his honorable apologies to the public and the church.  He seems honestly sorry for his actions, and the implications they may have on the reputation of his church.

 

How Did Raymond Sauceda Die In Police Custody After a Forced DWI Blood Draw?

You may or may not remember the story of Raymond Sauceda; a man who died while in the custody of police in Pasadena, Texas.  He was pulled over around 1am on March 24th, 2012.  Then officers brought him to a nearby hospital to forcibly draw his blood for alcohol tests after he refused a field sobriety test.  After the blood was drawn, police officers noticed that he was no longer breathing.  That is where the mystery starts, and Raymond’s family and the Houston community want answers.

Sauceda’s wife called the police station several times that night after his friends notified her of his arrest.  However, they repeatedly told her that he was not in the system.

He was dropping off a friend in front of his house when the arresting officer told the friend to go inside or he would arrest him too. The officer said that Sauceda’s eyes looked watery and he smelled like alcohol.  Armando Florez, the friend that Sauceda was dropping off when he was arrested, said that Sauceda looked healthy when he left him outside that night.  It was the last time he saw his friend alive.

Here’s where the story gets hairy.  After Sauceda’s wife spent the entire night calling the police station, she got a visit from Pasadena police detectives Sunday morning at 8am.  The detectives asked her if her husband had any markings on him, and she said no.  The officers then informed her that he had lacerations on his ankles, wrists, back, and blunt force trauma to the head.  She was shocked.  Then they told her he was dead.

It is now August, and Raymond Sauceda’s family and the local community still don’t have any answers.  How exactly did this man die?  How did he receive blunt force trauma to the head, and how did the detectives know that he had?  Was there an autopsy performed?  These are all questions that both the victim’s family and the community want answered.

Yes it’s true that Raymond Sauceda had previously been convicted of DWI on two separate cases.  However, previous convictions are no reason to sweep this issue under the carpet, nor are they justification for police brutality.  With so many questions unanswered, it is premature to assume that the police officers who arrested him and transported him to the hospital were responsible for his death.

However, how else could he have received blunt force trauma to the head?  He was not in a car accident, and did not get into a fight with any friends that night.  Some time in between his arrest and death, Raymond Sauceda was assaulted.  The responsible party or parties are as of yet unknown, but Pasadena’s Internal Affairs Division has been on the case since the incident in March.

Now it is August; we need answers. injury defense and wrongful death attorneys, ready your battle ships.  Someone needs to help this family find out what really happened, and finally find peace for Raymond Sauceda’s family.  It’s not going to be easy.

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Headline Irony: "Former MADD Head Charged With Drunken Driving"

Let's just say the headline struck me as quite ironic.  It seems every other day MADD seems to be cramming some new piece of propaganda or legislation down our throats. 

Let me further say that this woman should be afforded the presumption of innocence and all other constitutional protections just like every other DWI and criminal defendant. 

Unfortunately and ironically, it seems that MADD has and continues to tear away at the presumption of innocence in DWI cases.  Even before a person is convicted of DWI, MADD has pushed legislators to require DWI suspects to install Ignition Interlocks in their vehicles - so much for the presumption of innocence in these cases.

Houston Police Department Announces Yet Another DWI Enforcement Program

The Houston Police Department has once again announced another Houston DWI Initiative aimed at reducing the number of DWI accidents and DWI fatalities in the Harris County area.  HPD was joined in this announcement by the Harris County District Attorney's Office, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (M.A.D.D.) and Crime Stoppers.

The stated goal is "to reduce drunk driving accidents and associated fatalities by using a combination of public education and heightened enforcement of drinking and driving offenses."

They are once again touting the HPD Breath Alcohol Testing (BAT) vans.  These are the mobile DWI investigation vans that HPD and other police agencies use to investigate Houston DWI cases.  They drive the vans to various locations around the city to perform breath tests, blood tests and obtain warrants for blood when a citizen refuses to give blood.

By the looks of the crowd, it doesn't seem like many people were too interested in attending the event.

Basketball Coach Resigns After DWI Arrest - Why?

According to reports, Hofstra's men's basketball coach Tim Welsh resigned only 3 days after he was arrested and charged with DWI.  The question that I ask, "Why, why would you resign after only an allegation of Drunk Driving?"

"The university accepted the resignation in the best interests of the university and of the men's basketball program," Hofstra spokesman Stephen Gorchov said in a statement.  According to the report, Welsh was to be paid $3 million over the next 5 years.

Was this really a resignation from someone charged with DWI or did the University force him to resign.  My guess - the University forced him to resign pursuant to some morality clause in his contract, though that was not in any report I have seen.  This begs the question, "Is an arrest for DWI really a morality issue."  There have been coaches that have certainly survived a DWI arrest and conviction.  Let me know your thoughts on this issue.

Full Cooperation in DWI Investigation Leads to Innocent Man Being Arrested

I have heard police officer after police officer testify that a DWI client really is not arrested for DWI until the DA makes a decision to charge them with DWI.  My clients have told me that the police sometimes tell them, "It (the DWI arrest decision) is out of my hands, it's up to the DA."

Let's set the stage.  Client is pulled over for speeding on Loop 610 here in Houston.  The Houston Police officer approaches client and claims he smells alcohol.  He does the HGN and guess what - he sees 6 of 6 clues.  He then has the client do the walk and turn test and claims he observes 2 of 8 clues (video would show differently).  Client then was asked to do the One Leg Stand and scored a whopping 1 out of 4 clues (for those that don't know - that is a passing score).  After this terrible performance on the field sobriety tests, the officer arrests client and takes him to the jail.  By the way, there is no allegation of drug use in this DWI arrest.

Here is the kicker.  At the jail he asks for a breath test and again my client cooperates fully.  He blows a whopping .026 less than 45 minutes after he was "operating" his motor vehicle.  The legal limit is .08.  While I'm not a mathematician, I do know that .026 is a lot less than the legal limit of .08. 

Presumably, if the cops tell the truth on the witness stand (see first paragraph), the arresting officer called the district attorney's office to have the DWI charge approved.  I would like to assume that the police officer told the truth about the excellent performance on the field sobriety tests and the breath test.  I would also like to assume the prosecutor used his best judgment and made the call he thought was right.  I guess that is why we need jury trials?

So where does that leave us?

Innocent people are being arrested for DWI in Houston, Texas.

Dumbest Criminals - Drunk Driver Arrested after calling 911 on herself

A Wisconsin caller dials 911 to report a drunk driver - the conversation with dispatch is a s follows:

     Caller: Somebody's really drunk driving down Granton Road."

     Dispatch: Okay are you behind them, or...

     Caller: No, I am them.

     Dispatch: You am them?

     Caller: Yes, I am them.

     Dispatch: Okay so you want to call and report that you’re driving drunk?

     Caller: Yes.

Dispatch then asked the caller to pull over and turn the car off, which she did.  Police officers arrive and arrest the caller for Driving While Intoxicated / Drunk Driving.  According to reports, the caller's breath test was over twice the legal limit.

As Jamie Spencer points out, let's hope she gets credit from the prosecutors for "doing the right thing."  Knowing the system and how it works, I doubt the prosecutors will give her any credit for doing the right thing.

Chief Justice John Roberts lets us all know where he stands on the issue of DWI / Drunk Driving

The Supreme Court refused to hear a drunk driving case from Virginia.  Chief Justice John Roberts wrote a dissent to the decision not to hear the DWI case in which he says the lower court ruling will "grant drunk drivers one free swerve" that could potentially end someone's life.

In the underlying DWI case, the defendant was convicted of driving while intoxicated.  The evidence at trial was the driver was pulled over after a motorist called in a drunk driver.  The officer did not personally observe any traffic violation before stopping the driver.  The case was appealed to the highest court in Virginia and was ultimately overturned because of the stop.

In his dissent, Chief Justice Roberts goes on to say,

The stakes are high. The effect of the rule below will be to grant drunk drivers 'one free swerve' before they can be legally pulled over by police.  It will be difficult for an officer to explain to the family of a motorist killed by that swerve that the police had a tip that the driver of the other car was drunk, but that they were powerless to pull him over, even for a quick check.

Isn't this exactly what is required for a valid stop.  The officer must state with particularity the reason for the stop - the observations he/she has made prior to pulling someone over.  The 4th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States protects each and every one of us from unreasonable searches and seizures.  Chief Justice Roberts - BELIEVE IT OR NOT, THE CONSTITUTION APPLIES TO DWI / DRUNK DRIVING CASES ALSO. 

It seems like people, even Supreme Court Justices, don't think the United States Constitution should apply to driving while intoxicated cases.  I guess I am just a strict constructionist that believes the Constitution should apply equally to all cases.  If the police don't follow the rules, the evidence is no good.

Tigers GM upset with Miguel Cabrera for intoxication altercation - Is he Justified?

According to an ESPN report, Detroit Tigers GM was upset with Miguel Cabrera after learning that Cabrera had become intoxicated during the final weekend of the baseball season.  Not only was it the final weekend of the season, the Tigers were in the hunt for a playoff spot that they ultimately lost to the Minnesota Twins. 

A little more background is needed - not only was he intoxicated (over 3 times the legal limit), but the police were called to the scene of an altercation that Cabrera was allegedly involved in.  Police then released Cabrera to staff members of the Tigers organization.

Is the Tigers front office justifiably upset with Cabrera for getting intoxicated during the final weekend of the season?  Would it be any different if the incident have happened earlier in the season?  If the Tigers were not in the playoff hunt?

For what it is worth, the baseball season is a long season.  I think it is ridiculous to ask a baseball player to refrain from alcohol for the season.  With this being said, it is not  justifiable or excusable to become intoxicated to the point that police are needed to respond to an altercation.  The timing of Cabrera's intoxication and altercation on the last weekend of the baseball season while the Tigers were in the playoff hunt is just plain stupid.  If he had just gotten drunk, stayed home and had no run-in with police, I would say the Tigers would be off-base in being upset with him.  However, when you involve your employer in you personal life by asking them to pick you up from a drunken encounter with the police, your employer has every right to be pissed-off at you. 

Do Houston DWI cases ever get dismissed?

The simple answer is, Yes.  According to the Harris County Office of Court Management statistics, in 2008 there were 1100 Houston DWI cases dismissed.  Simple advice - hire a Houston DWI attorney that devotes the majority of his/her practice to defending Texas DWI cases.

As a Houston DWI lawyer responsible for many of these DWI dismissals, I know that there are a plethora of reasons that these DWI cases are dismissed.  However, at the root of just about every one of these DWI dismissals is a competent and dedicated DWI attorney that is fighting each and every step of the way. 

HIRE A QUALIFIED DWI LAWYER - QUESTION YOUR LAWYER ABOUT HIS/HER EXPERIENCE - ASK THE TOUGH QUESTIONS

You can rest assured that the DA's office is doing everything they can to convict anyone arrested for DWI in Houston, Texas.  You must have someone just as dedicated to fight for you if you have been arrested for DWI.  That advice again, HIRE A COMPETENT DWI LAWYER.

I have been arrested for DWI, can I go to Canada?

Seems like the simple answer would be, "Sure, no problem."  However, Canada, unlike any state in the United States, considers an arrest and conviction for DWI, DUI or drunk driving a felony offense.  In the all US states, a first time offender for DWI is a misdemeanor offense unless there are aggravating circumstances (death involved, serious bodily injury, child passenger, etc.).

If Canada knows about your DWI (whether the case is still pending or you have been convicted of the DWI /DUI), they may not allow entry into Canada.  We have heard of US citizens being refused entry into Canada because of the DWI / DUI arrest with no conviction.  In fact, we have been informed that there have been US citizens that have flown into Canada only to find out that they must immediately board a plane and return home.

If you have a DWI conviction and are planning a trip to Canada and live in the Houston area, call a Houston DWI lawyer to discuss what needs to be done to gain pre-approval to travel to Canada before being denied at the border.

DWI - You Can't Afford It

Our firm represented a client in Dallas today.  While I was driving home from the airport, I saw a large billboard that said that the average DWI arrest in Texas costs $17,438.  I have seen this figure before and it seems about right based on our experience in DWI cases.

There are fines of up to $2,000 for a first time offender as well as surcharges on your Texas Driver's License of up to $6,000.  These costs are in addition to probation fees, increased insurance premiums (assuming you don't lose your privilege to drive), and court costs that can be as high as $500.  

I guess the government or whoever is responsible for funding the billboard are trying to use this as a deterrent to people driving while intoxicated. 

But, what about the people that are falsely arrested for DWI or those that are ultimately found to not be intoxicated?  Even more of a reason to hire a DWI lawyer that devotes the majority of his/her practice to defending DWI / DUI cases.

Civilians doing field sobriety tests, breath tests and arresting our citizens

According to a former Houston Police Department DWI task force member, HPD is in the process of hiring and training civilians to assist in Houston DWI investigations.  These civilian "helpers" will be trained to perform field sobriety tests and also trained to operate the breath test machines. 

This means these civilians, not police officers, will be aiding and making decisions to arrest our citizens.  Who do you think will be signing up and interviewing for the civilian positions?  Probably those people with the biggest ax to grind and those that are affiliated with MADD and other organizations like MADD.   FYI - this is not a criticism of MADD.  I'm just not sure we as citizens want people with an agenda making decisions to arrest our citizens. 

Based on my experience as a Houston DWI lawyer, it just doesn't pass the smell test to let civilians make these type of life altering (for the person arrested for DWI) decisions.  Even though we all know that cops are not always without bias, at least they have been to the police academy and are suppose to be neutral observers - not advocates.  What's next?  Are we going to let civilians start making traffic stops?  Drug raids?  Prostitution Stings?

Ex parte communication leads to prosecutor getting a continuance

I had a motion to suppress scheduled for a hearing last Thursday in Harris County.  The hearing was scheduled to determine the admissibility of blood results from a hospital blood draw in my Houston DWI case.  I show up and approach the Judge with the prosecutor that was handling the case.  The following is the dialog that transpired:

Prosecutor:  Judge, this is the case we talked about yesterday.

Me:  Judge, I don't remember being a party to that conversation.

Judge:  I don't remember anything about a conversation about this case.

The problem is, there is not suppose to be any communication between the Judge and a party to the lawsuit without the other party being present.  These are the rules that we are all suppose to play by.  Unfortunately, not all of the Judges, prosecutors and I'm sure defense lawyers always play by those rules.  All I ask for in my profession is a level playing field where everyone follows the rules - including prosecutors and most importantly Judges.

So what was the outcome of the hearing you might wonder?  The case was reset for the second time at the request of the prosecutor over our objection both times.  Go figure.

Another DWI arrest for former Texas A&M basketball coach Billy Gillispie

As has been widely reported,  former Texas A&M head basketball coach Billy Gillispie arrested for DWI / DUI in Kentucky.  Gillispie was arrested approximately 30 miles from Lexington, where he most recently coached the Kentucky basketball team.

GillispieAccording to reports, Gillispie was pulled over for after police received a call of a possibly intoxicated driver that was driving erratically.  The report states that claims he had trouble with his insurance card and that he was confused about the car locks and glove box.  The report goes on to say that Gillispie refused to volunteer for a breath test or blood test.

Gillispie, just like everyone here in Houston charged with DWI, is presumed to be innocent.  Do you think that most that begin to read this article or any other reports of his arrest really presume him to be innocent or do they just assume that because he was charged, he must be guilty?  As a Houston DWI lawyer, I unfortunately think the former is true.  Even though there is a Constitutional Presumption of Innocence, I don't think many in Houston or the rest of the United States really gives much credence to that presumption.  I firmly believe  that he has probably already been convicted in the mind of the public.

Amazing Harris County DWI Statistics

I ran into a lawyer friend and colleague, Mark Bennett, at the Harris County courthouse and we were discussing Harris County DWI arrests and conviction rates.  Mark Bennett writes:

94.5%. That’s the fraction of the 713 people in Harris County whose cases were resolved in the first five months of this year after they refused to plead guilty who beat their cases—got them dismissed or got acquitted.

Wow, this is an amazing number that surprised me when I heard it.  The number, unfortunately, is directly related to the DWI lawyer that you hire to represent you in your DWI.  What do I mean that the number is related to the attorney you hire.  Well, there are many lawyers that represent clients on DWI cases that never go to trial on those DWI cases and never require the government to produce witnesses and provide evidence.  If you are looking to challenge your DWI and win your case, you need to hire a lawyer that is going to go the distance with you and have a jury trial if necessary to protect your DWI rights. 

There is an old phrase out there, "Good things happen when you go to trial."  If you stand in front of a Judge and plead guilty to a DWI, you are 100% of the time going to be found Guilty.  According to the statistics, however, if you stand up and say "Not Guilty" you have a great chance of winning your Houston DWI case.

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Michael Jackson and the Constitution?

I was at dinner with my family last night and saw on the MSNBC ticker that New York Representative Peter King openly criticized Michael Jackson after his death, labeling him a "pervert", "child molester" and a "pedophile."  

Today I have had the Michael Jackson Farewell on in the background and heard Houston Representative Sheila Jackson Lee speaking.  Fortunately, there are at least some in the House of Representatives that still fully understand what our Constitution means.  During her remarks, Jackson Lee paraphrased our Constitution saying, "We are innocent until proven otherwise." 

Hey Mr. King, what crime is it that Michael Jackson was found guilty of?  Oh yeah, he never was convicted of any crime.  In fact, he was acquitted in 2005 of the charges of molesting a child.  I guess that is just not good enough for you.  It sure is a good thing that our founding father's gave us the Constitution to protect our rights and that we do not rely upon lawmakers like Mr. King.  Mr. King - great forum and timing on the criticism of Michael Jackson.

Unfortunately, as a Houston DWI Attorney, I see jurors on a regular basis in my DWI cases that have similar views.  Many of these jurors believe that where there is smoke there must be fire and that because an officer arrests a suspect for DWI they must be guilty.  This is simply not true.  Based on my 12 years of lawyering experience, it is my opinion that more people are falsley accused of drunk driving, DWI and DUI than any other crime.